One of Northern Ireland's oldest dairy co-operatives is to use manure to power its Coleraine factory.
Ballyrashane Co-op has invested £3m in an anaerobic digestion plant which will produce both heat and power from dairy waste, farmyard manure, maize and grass silage. Northern Bank helped finance the project.
The energy will be used throughout the dairy and any surplus will be sold back to the grid. The by-product "digestate" will be made available to local farmers to spread on their land as a bio-fertiliser.
Ballyrashane's project manager Ian Campbell said the new plant will produce considerable financial and environmental efficiency savings.
"We have estimated that using this latest green technology will not only help us trim our annual energy costs significantly, but it will also enable us to reduce our annual carbon emission by more than 3,000 tonnes," he said.
"Although we are the first dairy firm in Northern Ireland to pioneer this technology, it has already worked extremely well in other parts of the world and we are very confident that it will be a success and beneficial not only to ourselves but to some of our neighbouring farms as well."
Established in 1896, Ballyrashane Co-Op produces milk for leading retailers such as the Henderson Group and Marks -amp; Spencer and is one of the biggest butter manufacturers in Ireland, with its own brand Ballyrashane butter being exported to Asia, America and Europe.
The creamery also produces speciality cheeses for export.
"Export accounts for around 70% of our total sales, with the Ballyrashane brand now available right across the globe," said Nigel Kemps, Ballyrashane chief executive.
"Trading in new foreign markets has been a critical strategic pillar in our business, and has seen our turnover increase from £37m six years ago to £80m last year."